By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

Mayor Owen Torgerson called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

Council voted to strike Village Entrance Sign Proposals from the agenda. The current entrance sign is nearly 20 years old and has visible rot on the top and lower portions of its structure, so Council is looking to replace it with a more weatherproof material. Additionally, given concerns that the current sign obstructs the view of drivers exiting the nearby Tim Hortons parking lot, Council is exploring simplified archway designs.

After adopting the amended agenda, Council adopted the minutes of the previous meeting.
There was one delegation: Valemount Secondary School students Madelyn and Rozina Shaw, who gave a brief presentation about the BC Youth Parliament (BCYP). In December, the two had attended the BCYP with financial support from the Village of Valemount; Madelyn said she hopes the Council will continue to support Valemount students who would like to participate in the BCYP.

With no unfinished business to attend to, Council moved on to correspondence for action.

Mobile Dental Unit Grant Funding

Councilor Hollie Blanchette, who works for Northern Health, recused herself from Council’s discussion of providing a letter of support for Northern Health to apply for a grant which would fund the creation of a mobile dental unit. The unit would provide pediatric dentistry services to children in Robson Valley. It aims to supplement the Northern Health’s Fluoride Varnish Program – which provides basic oral health screening to children one to five years old – by providing dental services to children in grades kindergarten through seven. Councilor Hugo Mulyk, who seconded Councilor Pete Pearson’s motion of support, said that he couldn’t be happier to support the project.

Project Pump It Up Request for Grant Support
Blanchette returned while Torgerson recused himself, being an appointed member of the Valemount and Area Recreation Development Association (VARDA). Project Pump It Up, an ad hoc committee of VARDA, requested a letter of support for an application to the Northern Development Initiative Trust Community Places Grant. The grant, if awarded, will go towards designing and building an all-wheels park and pump track. The motion was carried with unanimous support from council.

VARDA Request for Pacifican Grant Support
Councillor Blanchette’s motion to provide a letter of support for VARDA’s Pacifican Grant application, seconded by Mulyk, carried with all in favour. The grant would fund a feasibility study of recently-acquired property at Swift Creek, to determine how the property could be used to best meet the needs of Valemount residents.

Valemountain Days on Village Property
Torgerson returned to council. With no discussion, council approved a request for use of the Valemount Sportsplex for the 2024 Valemountain Days festival, to take place on June 7 through 9.

Valemount Community Sports Day Association Sportsplex Master Plan
Torgerson remarked that he hopes for extensive community input on the creation of a master plan for sports grounds in Valemount.
“If there are other amenities, facilities identified for that property that would be better suited for that property […] [I hope] that is at least put on a radar of some form,” he said, though he added that he is looking forward to hearing all input from the community.
The motion passed with all in favour.

Council proceeded to discuss items in its reading file.

Quarterly Report
This is the first quarterly report the Village has produced, explained CAO Anne Yanciw. The graphics and content will be refined over the next few reports, she said.
The report is meant for council members to have a concise way to look at measurable services such as the taxes that Valemount collects for the regional district and data from agencies such as the RCMP, Yanciw continued.

Accounts Payable Quarterly Report
This is the last accounts payable report that Council will receive.
“I’m quite sure we’re the last community in BC that does this,” Yanciw said. “It’s a holdover from pre-community charter days.”
Yanciw explained to The Goat that the accounts payable report was detail-dense, but did not provide much helpful material for Council-related decision-making. The new quarterly report, while not meant to replace the accounts payable quarterly report, will include the Village’s budget and actual spending to provide context for any financial decisions the Council makes; however, the Council primarily deals with governance decisions, hence the elimination of the accounts payable quarterly report.

Clean Air Task Force
Ryan Olson was appointed to the Clean Air Task Force for a one-year term with unanimous approval from Council.
“I’d like to thank all of the citizens who put their name forward for this committee,” said Blanchette. “Hopefully at some point we’ll be able to have more on the committee, because they’re a great value.”

Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan
Council approved staff to apply for the maximum amount of $20,000 under the UBCM Active Transportation Planning Grant, to create a Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan.
Pearson said he believes the plan will be a great start to developing an amalgamated trails system in the community.
Torgerson remarked that the former mayor of Fernie told him that the city was able to find more funding for trails after they had instituted a master plan; Torgerson looks forward to seeing whether Valemount will enjoy similar developments.
The motion was carried with unanimous approval.

Amendment to Travel Allowances Policy
Council approved amendments to the travel policy which guides staff and council when claiming expenses for Village-related travel. The travel claim form has been altered so that information on the vehicle used and fuel consumed during travel is no longer required; additionally, vehicle allowance rates will now be based upon guidance from the Canada Revenue Agency.
“We’re taking dollar figures out and putting CRA best practices in, so the policy will automatically change as federal legislation changes,” explained Torgerson.
Finally, an amendment has been added to clarify that miscellaneous expenses will be reimbursed with supporting receipts, rather than being included as part of the per diem rate.
The motion carried with all in favour.

Film Policy
This policy provides a framework for filming practices within the Village, including a permitting process and safety considerations for the use of pyrotechnics, drones, and fire.
“They say BC is Hollywood North, so let’s get everybody coming here to make films,” said Blanchette.
The film policy is the first to be presented to Council by Economic Development Officer Orlanda Goodell; Torgerson thanked Goodell for the thorough language of the policy.
The motion to approve the policy carried with all in favour.

Village Rental Property Pet Policy
In 2023, the Village purchased a rental property and fostered an agreement with Northern Health to rent the building to health professionals working in the area. There have since been requests to allow pets in the residence, so the Village proposed a Pet Policy to allow tenants to keep one dog or cat on the premises.
Blanchette recused herself from discussion as she works for Northern Health.
The motion to approve carried with no discussion; Blanchette returned to Council.
No new business was identified for discussion. Council moved on to reports.

Nobody came forward for the public comment period, so Council moved to an In-Camera meeting for consideration of two items per Section 90 of the Community Charter. (a) personal information about and identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer, employee or agent of the municipality or another position appointed by the municipality, and (e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality. With that, the open session of Council concluded at 7:36 p.m.